GARY | Gary Police Chief Wade Ingram said he is fed up with the retaliatory gun violence in his city and is vowing to do something about it.
"We're doing terrible with homicides," Ingram said.
Ingram's comments Thursday morning came on the heels of the fourth homicide in the city in a week. The city logged another homicide that night and one on Saturday morning, marking six in eight days — 28 for the year.
This time last year, the city had logged 17 homicides.
Gary police Wednesday also responded to two other nonfatal shootings.
"We know most of these shootings seem to be retaliatory in nature," Ingram said. "That's what we're trying to stop before it escalates."
Ingram said most of the victims of gun violence in the city "live high-risk lifestyles, and a lot of them have had contact with the law and court system."
One victim of a triple homicide last month had a court appearance on a criminal charge the day before he was shot and killed, Ingram said.
Following the particularly violent 4th of July weekend, Ingram on Monday initiated the Gunshot Victims Visitation Program. Ingram and detectives meet with gunshot victims quickly after they are injured to discourage any retaliatory action by them, their family members and friends.
"They may be on their way to do retaliatory violence, and we can stop them," he said.
Ingram already had a program in place where he visits the families of homicide victims in the city with a department chaplain and local clergy member.
"I probably have visited 20 homes," Ingram said. "We stress to them that vengeance is the Lord's."
Ingram also has solicited the Northwest Indiana Major Crimes Task Force's help in at least seven homicides this year, said the agency's Robert Byrd.
"A lot of credit goes to Chief Ingram for acknowledging that criminals are oblivious to jurisdictional boundaries and so should the police (be)," Byrd said.
In addition to home visits, Ingram said he tries to conduct roll call at the scene of violent crimes quickly after they occur to show the community the department has a presence in the neighborhood.
They also increase patrols based on violent crime data, he said.
"We're also working with the parole division to schedule visits to high-risk parolees," he said.
Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson this past week requested additional manpower from the Indiana State Police, calling the plea one of many steps the city is taking to address the problem.
"It isn't the only approach that we're taking," Freeman-Wilson said. "Quite frankly, we could double the number of officers on the street, and the killing could continue.
"You have to look at what's happening in the schools, in the job force, in terms of the levels of unemployment," she said. "All of this goes together."
Ingram said a recent Indiana University Northwest study found 74 percent of all gunshot victims don't have medical insurance. A larger percentage don't have life insurance or burial coverage, he said.
"This is a social problem and a public health problem, something above the realm of a law enforcement agency," Ingram said. "I would like to see more people help me out and the elected officials to come forward.
"We're not a school, we're not a church, we're not a family."
Times staff writer Christine Kraly contributed to this report.